Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Absalom Smith and the Pony Express

I just finished reading "West Like Lighting, The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express," by Jim DeFelice.  The Appendix included the known list of the pony riders as well as the pony express stations from East to West.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that Absalom Smith assisted Orrin Porter Rockwell as a station keeper.  I found the following information on the Internet.

Orrin Porter Rockwell

Have you heard of Porter Rockwell?
He’s a Mormon triggerite.
They say he hunts for horse thieves
When the moon is shining bright.
So if you rustle cattle
I’ll tell you what to do;
Get the drop on Porter Rockwell
 Or he’ll get the drop on you. 
(Lyrics from song about Orrin Porter Rockwell,
 Larson, "The Modern Samson")

Orrin Porter Rockwell

Orrin Porter Rockwell was born June 28, 1813 in Belchertown, Massachusetts. He was a close friend and bodyguard of Joseph Smith and was later a bodyguard for Brigham Young. He was a well-known and respected lawman who apprehended a number of criminals in the west. He died from heart failure on June 9, 1878 at the age of 64 years old.

"Orrin Porter Rockwell, as I knew him, was a diamond in the rough. It was great to know his inner self. His honest loyalty to church, country and friends was deep and lasting. He abhorred deceit and intrigue as did I. He knew the need and power of prayer, and did I. He was above average height, quick in movement, with strong arms and chest, and gray eyes - cool and searching. He was always well armed since his Nauvoo experiences, although the Prophet Joseph told him to wear his hair long and he would never be killed by an enemy." - George W. Bean's recollection of Orrin Porter Rockwell (Schindler, 1993)
Orrin Porter Rockwell portrait

Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel/ Rockwell's Pony Express Station

In Harold Schindler's biography, "Orrin Porter Rockwell", it states: On July 29, 1858, Orrin Porter Rockwell counted out $500 and purchased from Evan M. Green sixteen acres of real estate at Hot Springs near Point of the Mountain (on the road between Great Salt Lake City and Lehi). The trail was traveled by every city bound trooper in Johnston's Army. Mr Rockwell had it in mind to build a place where a man could buy a glass of home brewed beer, stable his animals, stay overnight, or just stop to pass the time of day. He called it the Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel. In it's prime this property included a hotel with dining facilities, stable, brewery and a Pony Express station. At the peak of business, the Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel claimed to produce 500 gallons (16 barrels) of "good lager beer" each day.
Brewery Advertisement (Valley Tan, 1859-06-01)
Advertisement for Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel, The Valley Tan, 1859-06-01

Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel drawing
Sketch of Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel, Stable

Rockwell Stage Station
Photograph of Rockwell's Stable (the stones from the stable's foundation were used in Rockwell's Monument)

 Amy Emily Downs and Absalom Wamsley Smith 

I went on Family Search to Memories and found the following in a written history of this couple.

 "Absalom came directly to Draper, 20 miles South of Salt Lake City, and began farming. He did much to help build up this community in the way of road construction and other community projects. He and his wife, Amy, built a 2-room adobe house, which was later replaced by a large home containing 14 rooms. It was used as an inn for travelers, one of whom was an old man whom Bro. Smith kept with him all winter. He was a shoemaker, and kept the Smith family in shoes for the winter months.  Many travelers passed along this road, to whom Bro. Smith gave shelter.  Porter Rockwell often called, and so did other church leaders. This home also served as a stage station."

A hand drawn map of Draper with Absalom's home at bottom center. 

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